Ready to move on? How to quit with class

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By Robert Half International

When the time comes to leave a job, remember that you’ll leave much more than an empty desk behind. Colleagues may be more likely to remember your conduct in the final days than the high points of your tenure. Don’t erase years of hard work and positive goodwill with a less-than-graceful exit.

Here’s how to leave with your good reputation intact:

Avoid reaching the boiling point. Many workers are feeling increased stress and frustration on the job. A Robert Half survey found that 41 percent of workers polled indicated that their current workloads are too heavy. But don’t let your growing tension cause you to lose your cool and lash out at your manager or colleagues.

If you’re reaching the breaking point, take it as a sign that you might want to move on. But until you accept another job offer, try to keep your frustration in check. It may help to blow off steam with trusted friends outside the workplace or to focus more on activities that bring you enjoyment, such as exercise, spending time with family or going to the movies.

Resign gracefully. Don’t dash off a terse resignation letter or march triumphantly into your manager’s office right after sealing the deal on your new job offer. Allow adequate time to frame your message.

If you’re resigning in writing, let your email or letter sit overnight before submitting it. Ask an objective friend or family member to review what you’ve written to ensure you don’t come across as angry or bitter. And, although you may be beyond ready to take your leave, give adequate notice, and offer to help with the transition. All of this serves to reinforce your professionalism.

Be candid but constructive. Do agree to participate in an exit interview, assuming one is offered. But don’t use it as an opening to release your frustrations and badmouth colleagues. While it’s fine to be candid, avoid personal attacks.

You’ll be doing everyone a favor — while maintaining your reputation — if you instead offer constructive criticism that can be used to improve the work environment. Also, your parting words will be given much more weight if you don’t come across as disgruntled.

Don’t gloat or broadcast your glee. Technology has certainly made it easier for dissatisfied employees to make a dramatic — and high-profile — departure if they so desire. But no matter how aggrieved you may feel, resist the urge to send an email to everyone on the distribution list telling them how you really feel about the company.

And don’t use social media to nominate your soon-to-be-former manager for the sequel to “Horrible Bosses.” Doing so could come back to haunt you later in your career.

Don’t leave the good behind. Even a negative job situation usually has some positive aspects. Maybe you’ve had supportive colleagues whom you don’t want to turn your back on. Not to mention, thanks to tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s difficult to completely sever professional ties once you leave a position even if you want to. It’s easier to just leave on good terms by thanking those who’ve helped you in your position or offered guidance.

It’s also wise to mend fences with those you’ve had problems with. You never know how professional paths might intertwine again, so why not leave as many connections as you can intact?

Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit www.roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series at www.roberthalf.com/dont-let-this-happen-to-you or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf

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